A big David Freese error gave the lead right back after the Pirates, who had been no-hit for six innings, staged a ninth-inning comeback, and the Bucs fell to the Rays, 4-2, in 10 innings on Tuesday.
Three of the last four Pirates losses now have come from leads blown with relievers pitching.
Felipe Rivero, the elite relief ace, entered in the 10th and Steven Souza welcomed him with a first-pitch single. Wilson Ramos then hit a possible double-play ball to third, but Freese let it get by him. The ball slowly rolled down the left-field line and Souza made it all the way around to score from first, giving the Rays a 3-2 lead just minutes after Alex Colome failed to nail down the save for them. A walk, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly plated another run for Tampa Bay, and the Pirates went down meekly in the bottom of the 10th against Tommy Hunter.
The Pirates spent a good part of the game failing to gain any traction on offense, struggling to square up most of Alex Cobb’s offerings. They didn’t get a baserunner until the fourth inning, when Josh Harrison walked, and a hit until the seventh, when Harrison slapped a single to right.
Cobb weathered a threat in the seventh. An Andrew McCutchen single immediately followed Harrison’s, but Josh Bell grounded into a double play and Freese grounded out. Cobb allowed the two hits in eight innings, with four strikeouts and a walk. He had a 7-6 groundout-to-flyout ratio.
Colome came in for the ninth with Tampa Bay leading 2-0. He grazed the leadoff man, pinch-hitter John Jaso, in the helmet and/or dreadlocks with a pitch. After an Adam Frazier flyout, Harrison doubled over Souza’s head in right, pushing Jaso to third. (Jaso almost ran the Pirates out of the rally twice, nearly getting picked off of first, then ignoring third-base coach Joey Cora’s stop sign initially, before getting back.) McCutchen then smacked one out of Evan Longoria’s reach down the third-base line for a game-tying, two-run double.
Bell was intentionally walked, then Freese flied out to right for the second out. Gregory Polanco worked a 3-0 count before the Rays just sent him to first, too, but Jordy Mercer flied out to left with the bases loaded.
Trevor Williams had an excellent start for the Pirates. He had seven strikeouts and no walks, allowing two runs on six hits. He pitched into the eighth, needing just 84 pitches.
With Cobb already rolling, Williams got into trouble with singles by Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison in the fourth. Dickerson scored when Souza hit into a fielder’s choice. Williams allowed another run when Tim Beckham led off the eighth with a double and scored on a single by newly-acquired Adeiny Hechavarria that ended the pitcher’s night.
Juan Nicasio cleaned up the eighth, and Daniel Hudson got two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 ninth.
Harrison led the Pirates offense, getting on base three times on a night that was at a premium. McCutchen, returned to the No. 3 spot in the batting order, had the two hits.